Dear Nadine Khan,
I am 21-year-old girl. I belong to a conservative, middle class family. I went to a girls’ school and college, but for my MS, I had to take admission in university which is co-education. My mother warned me to stay away from boys, as they take unfair advantage of girls on slightest encouragement. My mother said that my conduct will decide whether my younger sisters will be allowed to study in co-education or not. My first experience studying with boys has been very scary so far. A boy pranked me on my first day, and that made me even more frightened of boys. I feel tongue-tied in the presence of male teachers and my friends make fun of me. I go out of my way to keep myself isolated from boys. I avoid eye contact with them, and I keep my head down. When a boy comes to speak to a girl from my group, I stay quiet or go away for some time. It’s been a year now and I have become better in the presence of teachers, but still can’t deal with my male classmates. I don't know what to do. I've tried to reason with myself, but it doesn't work. Please help me!
Libra in Trouble
Dear Libra in Trouble,
This is a problem that is faced by a lot of girls who attend girls’ only school. When they come to professional colleges or universities, they have some trouble adjusting studying with boys, but manage to adjust quite well. You have actually done all you can to not adjust; avoiding eye contact with your class fellows is not reasonable; my dear, they are not monsters! They are simply students, the way you are. You have referred to your classmates as ‘boys’ many times. You should stop thinking in terms of gender and treat everyone as your classmate. Since you got admission in university, you are an intelligent and hard-working girl. That should give you the confidence you need to deal with your classmates, whether they are boys or girls. All you need to understand is that you will have to interact with boys in the course of your masters, and you should come to terms with this fact. So, the best thing is to stop trying to avoid contact with boys; doing so will only draw their attention to you. Think of them as fellow students - not boys. Ask your friends to help you out by making it easy for you to communicate with male students. Instead of moving away when a boy comes to speak to your friends, try to exude confidence, and say something to participate in the conversation; if not to the ‘boy’ to your female friend only. You managed to accept male teachers, and with a little effort you will start feeling comfortable in the company of your male class fellows. Just think of them as fellow students, and you will soon be fine. Good luck!
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